Jesuit scholastics reflect and act on ecology: National Tree Day at Kimwenza, Democratic Republic of Congo

Eco Jesuit

André Samalambo, SJ and the Kimwenza Ecology Group

congo2Jesuit scholastics of the Saint Peter Canisius community (Central Africa Province) at Kimwenza in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo organize activities every three months to raise more awareness among Jesuits and friends on the need to be in harmony with Mother Earth and to be reconciled with Creation. This awareness and commitment is the result of the work of the Group of Reflection and Action on Ecology.

During National Tree Day last 5 December 2013, they collected papers all over the compound for recycling with many members of the community. They celebrated an Ecological Mass and shared the Eucharist in the outdoors, under the trees, with the assembly sitting on the grass with Fr Benoît Mbuyi, SJ with the Deacon Raphael Bazebizonza, SJ presiding. To begin the Eucharist, Fr Benoît blessed and planted a tree at the very place of the celebration. The two leaders of the Group, André Samalambo and Albert Andemir’Irenge led this ceremony and explained its deep meaning.

congo3With the wind, with birds singing, with the shadow of the trees, people really felt in communion with Nature. And when Fr Benoît held the Host saying, “this is my Body…” it was as though the whole creation was taken into this host and shown as the Body of Christ.

Fr Benoît warned the congregation against the temptation of reducing ecology to an ideology. It is rather a way of life. In fact, it is our whole life: to be connected to the whole Creation, to recognize that we are part of Mother Nature. It is not enough to be part of a “green movement,” but to be really committed with Nature in their life.

He shared the story that an old lady said: “In the old time, we used to use the same bottles repeatedly, but we did not know the environmental movement. We used to go upstairs on foot: there were no escalators. We used to walk; we did not take the car every time we have to move two streets. But we did not know the environmental movement. At the time, the diapers were washed: we did not know disposable diapers. We used to rely on wind and solar energy to dry clothes. At the time, we systematically used to recycle clothes, passing from a brother or sister to another. It is true! We did not know any environmental movement. At the time, we used to work physically; we did not need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But we did not know the environmental movement. At the time, children had the same binder for several years, notebooks continued from one year to another, colored pencils, erasers, sharpeners and accessories lasted as long as they could, not a satchel all year and notebooks thrown late June, new pencils and erasers with a new slogan to each entry. But it is true, we did not know the environmental movement.”

Ecology is not about knowledge or ideology, but a way of life and Jesuit scholastic of Kimwenza are learning and working, reflecting and acting.